Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Real Motives Behind Google's Chromebook Pixel

"Why would anyone want a $1,300 web browser? I just don't get it."

People said the same thing when the iPod, iPhone, and iPad all were introduced. No one had even considered these products before, yet each of those products inspired a new generation of products and a new way of thinking about music, phones, and productivity.

+Marques Brownlee did a great job at explaining the real motives Google might have in releasing the Chromebook Pixel:

  1. To attract the attention of the App development community
  2. To challenge hardware manufacturers to think about Chromebooks beyond "base model" contruction

Those who use Chromebooks understand it is much more than "just a web browser."

In addition to Google's step toward the future, Microsoft's Office 365 product moves traditional business software to the Cloud and signals that mainstream businesses are looking for that type of solution. 

Does that mean everyone will want, need, or can use a Chromebook Pixel? No. Of course not. At least not yet.

There will always be a need for specialized tools. But if the direction we are headed with technology is a true "multiscreen experience," then traditional computers and laptops are going to have to evolve to match the functionality of the smartphone and tablet. To do that, everything must be web-based. The Chromebook Pixel is a step in that direction.

As explained in the video, the goal of the Chromebook Pixel is to "inspire the next generation of Chromebooks." Google knows the Pixel is unlikely to sell as well as the Samsung ARM Chromebook has on Amazon for $249. But sales aren't the point. Google wants to accomplish so much more. 

What do you think? Is the Chromebook Pixel about Google selling a high-end Chromebook, or is there some other strategy and motives in the mix?

Monday, February 25, 2013

LastPass—Optimized Password Management for Chromebooks

I have been using 1Password for Mac for years. As I'm monitoring my workflow transition from my 2012 MacBook Air to the Samsung ARM Chromebook, I have been looking for alternatives that would be more conducive to the Chromebook and more deeply integrated into the Chrome browser on my Mac.

After posting the question in the Chromebooks Google+ Community which describes itself as the "largest unofficial community for Chrome OS discussion," I received an overwhelming nudge in the direction of +LastPass in lieu of +1Password.

(As a side note, I would highly recommend this community as it has a very active and engaged user base. I have found it very helpful to connect with other "Chromies" who are trying to figure out how to harness the power—yes I said power—of this emerging technology platform.)

Here are some highlights that might help you make the switch, too:
  1. You get a first-class password tool. Unless you are in a hyper-sensitive industry, the power of LastPass security features will overwhelm you at first. Take a breath and let it make you feel comfortable that you are using a robust tool.
  2. LastPass is tied to your browser and your vault in the Cloud. It isn't housed locally on your hard drive and isn't shared over a file-sharing service like Dropbox.
  3. I can share passwords with people on my team without revealing the actual password. This makes password management for my assistant and my project coordinator that much easier.
  4. LastPass allows me to store just about anything. It's not just for passwords. You can also store notes to credit card information.
  5. LastPass scores my passwords and tells me where I am weak. It is simple to update those passwords. Those updates are immediately available on every device I have that is also logged into LastPass.
  6. If you need it, you can add things like a +YubiKey and two-step verification for Google. I haven't taken this step yet, but it's a nice option.
  7. The customer support is fantastic. I had a quick follow up email from a real person soon after subscribing. When I asked a question, they actually responded. I was impressed.
I was up in minutes and a premium subscriber ($12/year) within a few more minutes. This is a tool that has way more horsepower than I need right now. When it comes to online security, I want the best. 

If you're looking for a great password and identity security solution that is web-based and is optimized for Chromebooks, then take a look at +LastPass. You won't be disappointed.

What is your password and identity management solution?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Chromebook Pixel—Just What Google Needed To Do

People have been laughing at the Chromebook since the CR-48 first came out. It is certainly in that "emerging technology" category. Not everybody is ready to move exclusively to Chrome OS, and not everyone is ready to move entirely to the Cloud.

Google went to the middle with the Samsung 550—which I bought and sold recently for a variety of reasons. Then it went to the bottom of the market tier at $249 and provided a laptop in the category of most tablets. (Mine is on its way.)

I have to admit I didn't understand why Google was allowing all the different version of the Chromebook to be made by different manufacturers and flood the market. Looking back, I think it was a smart—albeit messy—move. It was a great way to get the attention it needed to build momentum and finally achieve some level of market penetration.

Now was the perfect time for Google to hit the top end of the market. I love that Google finally flexed its muscles and produced something that many skeptics didn't think was possible—a laptop that looked and functioned as good as some of the best laptops on the market. (I'm going off the spec sheet here. Obviously I haven't seen one just yet.)

I'm still not sure if I'm ready to spend $1299 or $1499. I might wait until the second iteration. But this tells me that Google is committed to the Chromebook platform and is willing to invest big dollars in producing something that looks great and can stand up to its peers.

Way to go Google!

Will you buy the new Chromebook Pixel?